Look inward. It’s a phrase many people are told when considering a big decision.
Looking inward allows you to reflect and take stock of you. Looking inward allows you to have a better understanding of where you currently stand while making note of any challenges or obstacles preventing you from achieving your best.
As journalists we should also look inward. Consider conducting an audit of what you are doing well, what you could do better and most importantly what you need to be better. Ideally, when we look inward, we walk away with ideas about how we can improve our reporting and make our newsrooms better. In the end that means the public wins.
With the Trusting News project, all of the strategies our newsrooms are testing involve external outreach with an audience and their community. As we see newsrooms experiment, we are realizing some strategies can be implemented internally as well.
Some of the newsrooms are looking at their own processes and responsiveness in order to set up their newsroom to better build trust with their community.
A few of the strategies being implemented internally seem simple enough like asking journalists to update their bios. This includes on the website and on social media profiles.
Others involve a little more work, like updating how tips and feedback from a news website are accessed by reporters, editors, producers and news managers once submitted by a user.
Some of the questions newsrooms are asking themselves:
- Who’s looking at the feedback?
- What are journalists doing in response to it?
- Is the feedback easy to access?
- Is it creating a two-way dialogue between the user and the journalist? (Without that, it can be hard, if not impossible, to build trust.)
One newsroom is trying to make feedback received by users more accessible by redirecting information received on their feedback form (information that can only be accessed by logging into a system) to another internal form that is easier and more direct for reporters, editors, producers and news managers to access and answer, without logging in to a separate system.
They are removing obstacles for journalists to access user feedback. Eliminating obstacles makes it more likely that the journalist will take the time to access the information, making it more likely that the journalist will respond and engage with a user, hopefully building trust in the long run.
How can you look internally? Ask yourself about your workflow:
- Are you being genuinely responsive to user feedback?
- Is something hindering communication with your users?
- Is there something that could make that communication easier?
- What about your technology or systems you are using. Could they be automated or made easier in any way to increase or encourage engagement between you and your users?
In general, where in your routines and newsroom conversations are you making room for your users’ experiences, feedback and needs? Looking inward and asking questions like these may raise red flags about how you are currently operating. Those red flags could lead to changes that help you increase engagement and more importantly build trust.
Have you looked inward in your newsroom? If so, let us know what you have found and if you think it has helped you increase trust with your audience.
The Trusting News project, staffed by Joy Mayer and Lynn Walsh, is designed to demystify the issue of trust in journalism. We research how people decide what news is credible, then turn that knowledge into actionable strategies for journalists. We’re funded by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, the Knight Foundation and Democracy Fund.